Art Schrage, Director of Development & Integration Services and HIKE2’s first employee, is celebrating his 3-year work anniversary this month.
He brings 20 years of consulting and engineering experience to the table, including deep expertise in Salesforce development and integrations including Mulesoft.
Art is passionate about helping organizations solve complex problems through automated solutions, with successes in manufacturing, automotive, construction, and healthcare.
We asked Art to tell us about his proudest and most memorable moments at HIKE2 over the last three years.
Q: How have you seen HIKE2 grow since starting here?
Art: First of all, our young developers have really advanced. They all started here right out of college and now they’re self-sufficient. That’s been a huge change for me. I used to spend time coaching them and now it really isn’t necessary due to the phenomenal ways in which they’ve grown.
Originally, they had to gain a lot of specific knowledge in Salesforce. Now they’re even more adept at certain parts of Salesforce than I am.
It’s really rewarding to see them reach this level of expertise. Now I ask them as many questions as they ask me.
Q: Has your position as Director changed at all since starting at HIKE2?
Art: When I started at HIKE2, it was a very small group. I was their first employee! I helped create a lot of our systems, which I really enjoyed. I set up time tracking, file management, and our knowledge base. I also worked on choosing the best cloud services and invoice processing systems.
Things are quite a bit different now — all our systems are well developed and we have efficient processes in place, managed by various people.
Q: What’s your favorite HIKE2 memory?
Art: That would have to be coming in during the first month. Everything was so new, fresh, and exciting. Anytime you make a big move like that, it’s exciting. And it’s still exciting!
HIKE2 is a special organization. Amanda Wodzenski (HIKE2 Principal) and I have been talking for years about doing this sort of thing. I was impressed that she got it started and I felt fortunate to become a part of it.
Q: Do you have a favorite project?
Art: Yes, I have a favorite success story — a large local construction company. We started out with a very small agreement advising them on programming practices. That grew into an integration project using Jitterbit. Once we completed that engagement successfully, we followed up with a second integration project involving their new Experience Cloud implementation.
We’ve seen tremendous growth with that client over just a year or two. The HIKE2 team enjoys working with them, especially since we’ve formed a really great relationship. I believe they benefit from our Salesforce expertise and it’s just fun to work so closely with a client like that.
Q: Can you tell us about some memorable feedback you’ve received from a client?
Art: The feedback that resonated with me the most was an unprompted comment, actually. The client told us that they love working with us so much more than other vendors they’ve partnered with. They also complimented our project manager, Jonathan, saying that he was obviously born to run projects. When you get that kind of feedback, especially unsolicited, it feels really satisfying.
Q: What’s your best advice for fellow IT Directors?
Art: My personal philosophy is that I’m in this career to help people. It sounds odd since I’m in IT, but I think that focusing on helping people is what makes it all worthwhile.
If at any point I feel like I’m not helping the client, I don’t want to continue down that path. I want our clients to feel that they’re getting value for the money that they’ve spent with HIKE2.
Q: What are you looking forward to this year at HIKE2?
Art: I’m excited about emerging technologies like AI, robotic process automation, and blockchain applications, for example. These have all been brewing for years, but it seems some of them are finally getting to a point where they’re mature enough to be useful, to change the way we work and allow us to do more for our clients.
Salesforce gives us access to new technologies in a way that lets us support clients directly, with real applications — not just theoretically or by relying on a bunch of PhDs to implement them.
We have a couple projects with Einstein now, but we’ll definitely be doing more in the future. Clients will be asking how they can leverage AI and HIKE2 needs to be ready to answer that.
And there is a good answer: Salesforce provides AI access within its platform without much effort. It’s up to us to school ourselves completely on what Salesforce can do in that realm and be able to answer those questions when they come.
Q: Tell us about HIKE2 LABS. What is your role and how do you expect LABS to expand HIKE2 services?
Art: HIKE2 LABS is our Innovation Lab to bring innovation and emerging technologies to our clients. Over a couple of years, I have managed and run the weekly collaborative sessions. I’ve provided technical leadership when needed, organized the developers, worked with them, and helped to architect solutions. We’re developing products through LABs and we expect some of these products to help our clients.
For example, Wayfinder PM is a great app for tracking work within a HIKE2 project. Clients can also continue to use it after the project is complete. It’s a nice, lightweight PM tool that can be used for other purposes.
Another product we’re working on is Reach. It’s a very promising and exciting application of technology involving coding. It leverages text messaging as part of the end-to-end business processes that people use everyday within Salesforce.
Q: Can you talk about some of HIKE2’s core values that really resonate with you?
Art: I would start with innovation. To me, innovation means contributing to cutting-edge thinking. That might mean using specific technologies or embracing different approaches to project management or coding and integration. These innovations are always happening as technology changes.
Another big part of innovation is looking at how to apply these technologies to big problems. It’s not always immediately obvious, but that’s where HIKE2 comes in. We know both of these pieces and we can figure that out.
Good collaboration is also so valuable, and is another one of our core values. Just having that transparency and trust and being able to have creative discussions are all key to getting the best possible business outcome and the best application built.
That’s what I try to focus on. If the client knows that you’re trying to help them, it makes the process that much easier.
Q: What can clients expect when working with HIKE2?
Art: They can expect us to be transparent, trusting, and trustworthy. We bring a whole host of Salesforce and integration knowledge and experience to the table. Clients bring their areas of expertise as well as knowledge about business processes and their industry.
Clients can expect us to help them implement Salesforce in the most advantageous way for their organizations, to implement best practices, to build things in the most efficient way possible, and to leverage the tools they have for the least cost and most benefit for the business.
Q: How would you sum up your last 3 years with HIKE2?
Art: It’s been an exciting journey and it’s been good fun!
I really appreciate how HIKE2 embraces everyone’s individuality and helps them grow. Since we’re growing as a company, we can allow people to explore areas they’re interested in. I appreciate that — it’s made the whole experience very worthwhile.